Sunday, October 19, 2008


Well, well, it’s…eh…October seventeenth (Of course, that’s not what the actual web log says, because I’m writing this on my computer in my host family’s house and will copy and paste it onto “the internet” later.), and I’m getting around to my second web log entry. Like my last web log (which failed), I’m slacking big time on this one. HOWEVER, what’s important at this juncture is that I’m writing entry number two and not letting the burden of starting it hold me back. As for future entries, it’s up in the air.

Anyway, let’s go back a few weeks, to…oh boy…September…twenty-third? or thereabouts. I can’t remember. I guess we left Philadelphia on the twenty-third, meaning we arrived in Baku on the twenty-fourth. Right? We had a nice bus ride to J.F.K. Airport (which entailed The Sandlot, the most American movie we could find, and a cruise through Brooklyn). I couldn’t complain about our two flights with Lufthansa. How can you gripe about flight attendants back-peddling through your aisle after dinner with two bottles in their hands, saying, “More wine?”

We were tired nonetheless, but I perked up when we arrived in Baku. Folks from the Peace Corps welcomed us at the airport, including current volunteers. We were quickly given delicious sack lunches and herded onto buses, which would take us to a place of sheer joy, Aqua Park. I’ll get to that is a second.

It was dark outside, and I’d say most of us were too exhausted to deal with culture shock. For most of the bus ride, I stared outside, trying to make out what we were passing. What caught my eye the most were the oil pump jacks and what seemed like smoke coming out of the ground. It was mysterious, like we were heading into much unknown. It was true.

We got off the bus and were kindly reminded of how folks drive around the world when we crossed the street, but at this point, it was okay, because we were at the Aqua Park. Now, like I said before, we were pretty tuckered out, so our new surroundings (At least I don’t think.) didn’t hit us too hard. This point was reassured by the fact that our first few days would be spent at the Aqua Park. Wait. You don’t know what that is?

The Aqua Park is a hotel…somewhere. I’m not so sure where it is, but I do know that it’s pretty far from anything. It sits right by the Caspian Sea, and the rooms are pretty nice. It also has, like the name implies, an “aqua park,” with three big water slides, one of which ends in one of those giant toilet bowl type things, like they have (or had?) at Splashtown in Houston. That one wasn’t working, though. It also had a lower, kind of spooky amusement park area and a disco. Seems pretty Peace Corps-ish, eh? Whatever the case, could there be a better place to spend out first few days in country?

The first five or so days in Azerbaijan was our “orientation.” It allowed us to…well…orient. It consisted of meetings and whatnot from morning to night, touching on themes like language (important), being a successful volunteer, and aspects of Azerbaijani culture. We also got to go down water slides. All in all, I enjoyed orientation and spending a few more days with the people in “AZ6,” as we’re called. After orientation, it would be somewhat rare for us all to be together, and that brings us to September twenty-ninth, when we’d move in with our host families.

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